Void vote on migrants deals blow to Hungary’s anti-EU revolt
BUDAPEST: Hungary’s populist Prime Minister Viktor Orban suffered a blow on Sunday in his revolt against the European Union after low voter turnout voided his referendum aimed at rejecting a contested migrant quota plan.
Although a whopping 99.8% of voters backed his bid to reject the proposal, overall turnout fell well short of a 50% threshold.
Only 3.3 million of the eight-millionstrong electorate cast a valid vote, and the National Election Committee declared the referendum void after counting the ballots.
Opposition figures swiftly called on Orban to step down over the vote, after rights groups had accused him of whipping up anti-migrant fears despite there being only a few hundred asylum seekers in Hungary.
But the firebrand leader downplayed the significance of the low turnout and vowed there would be “legal consequences” regardless.
“Brussels or Budapest, that was the question, and the people said Budapest,” the prime minister defiantly told supporters gathered in the capital on Sunday evening.
“I will propose to change the constitution (which) shall reflect the will of the people. We will make Brussels understand that it cannot ignore the will of Hungarian voters.”
Orban did not reveal further details of the proposed amendment.
“It looks like (Orban) wants to continue his fight with the EU on its migration policy, and the constitutional amendment is his way of doing that as it might trigger legal fights” with Brussels, analyst Bulcsu Hunyadi said. – AFP